Nightscript Vol. IV

A2B3035B-C408-457B-A649-3A05262AE7D0
CHTHONIC MATTER 2018

Edited by C.M. Muller

Stories by V.H. Leslie, J.T. Glover, Joanna Parypinski, Steve Rasnic Tem, L.S. Johnson, Daniel Braum, M. Lopes da Silva, Mathew Allan Garcia, April Steenburgh, Charles Wilkinson, Farah Rose Smith, Armel Dagorn, Cate Gardner, Jackson Kuhl, Christi Nogle, Ross Smeltzer, Jennifer Loring, Tim Jeffreys, Elana Gomel, Mike Weitz, Kirsty Logan.

When I read this book, my thoughts will appear in the comment stream below…

13 thoughts on “Nightscript Vol. IV

  1. Sugar Daddy by V. H. Leslie

    “Once Amira and Zahra found a recipe for Nostradamus’ love jam among their father’s books.”

    Amira brings home a boy friend almost as old as her widowed father. Afternoon tea is chosen as an optimum occasion for such a meeting with her father. Her sister Zahra turns up, too. Recipes, like words as ingredients of fiction, can conjure up all manner of smells and tastes and consistencies of bite. But each bite must be topped with something nice … here, today, Dad’s pomegranate jam. This quirky story makes ‘quirky’ feel sticky. When motives clarify under the guise of clouding up. And Dad’s elixir of aspic makes for a paradoxically easy exit with just a single lick and a promise. Mum still turning in her urn?

    My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/v-h-leslie/ and https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/interzone-247/

  2. There Has Never Been Anyone Here by J. T. Glover

    “She wipes sweat from her face, reaches out to run one finger along something that feels too sinewy and sticky for rope.”

    A bit like Dad’s pomegranate jam? This accretively cloying work represents a
    leasehold series of fragments, i.e. interviews, on-line message boards, articles, even up front story-telling by the freehold author about Francesca around which the hauntings seem to centre, I assume. Between such chronologically non-linear fragments (some even from our current future) are periods of being stuck as if between fully tuned radio stations. We need to build the gestalt. Or, rather, unknot it. And when we do, hand in Glover, we receive slowly building signals of which even the author seems unaware, I sense. Between the cracks, rather than the lines.

    “Even as she swings the hoe, she’s thinking gas cans, matches, purification.”

    My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/j-t-glover/

  3. ​​The Thing in the Trees by Joanna Parypinski

    “Feeling as if I’ve just drunk pomegranate juice in hell, I set down the empty bottle and take a step back from the fire.”

    I found this a most haunting, obliquely meaningful experience where a park’s ranger becomes a stranger, a cross-dream of reality and visionary visitations by people in trees, dealing with the nature of anxiety, marriage, transgender and identity. I need say no more. Unmissable.

  4. A4AF321A-6E8D-4F32-9C60-8064C6D7B6DFBy the Sea by the Steve Rasnic Tem

    “Like her parents, her siblings, and herself, they were people who lived their entire lives without notice, subject to the whims of the planet, of the weather and climate change, of the politicians and the governments and the armies…”

    Subject to the world’s ominous ocean, figuratively and in reality, its “hungry dream”, a naive, but powerfully wise, portrait of the naive, but powerfully wise, Sarah from childhood to age. The Age of Attrition’s final Accretion. The ocean’s or sea’s detritus and its inferred found-art, as I myself find and capture visually every day. Here I am alerted to its final found-art, as I shall call it, a found-art of which I was not aware… till now.

    My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/steve-rasnic-tem/

  5. A Harvest Fit for Monsters by L.S. Johnson

    “Besides, there was hardly anyone in town now; hardly anyone anywhere. It was a country of old women and little children. All their strength and vigor was rotting in the fields, in the swaths of land lapping at that single contested border, just a line on the maps of madmen.”

    Besides, this powerfully restrained story is of a war with blood drenching the land, a sort of reverse form of harvest, drenching their crops, their children. A well-characterised woman, herself permeated with the endless war’s history, her mind mixing despair and stoicism, meets one returning soldier with the circumstantial evidence that he is the “monster” general in lonely retreat, but assuring her that it is mere resemblance. She entertains him, gives him shelter, for a while, yet hatching plans for some form of retribution. The story itself shares such endless attrition with its own structure of telling itself.

    My previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/l-s-johnson/ and https://nullimmortalis.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/interzone-247/#comment-8472

  6. The Monkey Coat by Daniel Braum

    “Bring no suffering into your body. June supposed this also included wearing no suffering, apparently.”

    A strange story that leaves you with the lingering thought that you are left wearing it, with your legs in the sleeves, instead of the arms. A reader laid bare. A story that has been kept in a special lock-up that probably needs a combination code to unlock it it. A story of June and her flighty daughter Ivy, a story with a Jewish background, and an ivory complexion, the modern fashion of conscience against such cruelty to animals, and June’s inheritance of a real fur coat made from a hopefully roadkilled – not purposely killed – monkey, a coat that once belonged to her high life grandmother in Paris, or was it her ex David now in Paris whom she runs to ground? Why did I think that Flannery O’Connor might enjoy this story? And I thought also of serial murders in the Rue Morgue. A gestalt of were-monkeys … or men. A study in rage and lust.

    “So it felt like David, or more like what had been their life, had shattered into parts, all of them lesser, each of them a distinct piece of what they had and what he had been to her, and each of the parts residing in the different men she kept around.”

    My previous review of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/tag/daniel-braum/

  7. Seams by M. Lopes da Silva

    “The town was about six square blocks that included a diner, a drug store, a movie theatre that wouldn’t open until seven that evening, a hardware store, an antiques shop, and a sewing supplies shop…”

    “Scissors are for paper, shears are for cloth,”

    I use scissors, then shears, to the quilted texture of this accretive fable of the small town enclave and newcomer wife variably called Leslie or Lee, at first a gentle tweezering by my critique at the odd stitch of this work’s portrait of womanhood, then a hasty flaying outward from the seams towards a resonating moral that weighs liberation of self-beauty against a Stepford Wife slavery and ripping off the scab before the wound is healed against a gradual acclimatisation to the ugly scab itself. The scab that covers existence’s holes and pitfalls…?

    “She couldn’t bear to look at the voids that pocked her; when she had a friend nearby, Leslie felt the voids diminish to pinpricks. Mark couldn’t scare so much as a pothole away, for some reason.”

    “But the thrill of the hunt, the lifting brush, had lit the days when nothing else could. / There was a quilt of emerald green boas twining among butterflies and flowers, and Leslie felt her heart kick like a leg.”

    Provocative and haunting work. With beautiful long opera-coats that are in synergy with the earlier monkey ones in the trees?

  8. A Gut Full of Coal by Mathew Allan Garcia

    “I was eight years old when I began working in La Coronita, and I must have moved coal through hundreds of miles of tunnels such as the one Ignacio and I now enter.”

    This is a powerful story of hauling memories, the dead still living, search of one’s dead daughter in the mine, boys and girls not working in chimneys but in mining tunnels, the eyes of the devil. This is also my own mine presented here, mine by quirk of fate or preternaturality, ‘osmotic with the critic’ (synchronously mentioned here earlier today). My paternal grandfather worked in the South Wales mines, and worked as a ‘hauler’ which was the job of hauling coal through the tunnels and hopefully to the surface. On the ancient census (now on-line) that I investigated to find this fact out, the job was misspelt by the ancient handwriting as ‘hawler’. A cross of crawler and bawler or howler? Also this story is mine to cherish as it evokes my earth’s core where I once placed Azathoth’s lair in my erstwhile novel about the Hawler called ‘Nemonymous Night’. This Garcia story, meanwhile, is a unique and separate tale of poignancy of mine-working, childhood, salvage as a zombie or a ghost and eventual come-uppance down there. A Latin American atmosphere of pungent food and families splitting and blending with each of their emerging backstories. Including the narrator that called himself the me that is mine and maybe yours, too. C’mon Daddy, my own grown-up daughter says, while visiting me today.

    “It’s just our breathing and the silence that thrums through the cave walls, like the lifeblood through the veins of a god that is always hungry.”

  9. Crow Woman by April Steenburgh

    “She was not beautiful in any normal way, but most definitely somehow insidiously so.”

    “There was no awareness of self, of tools—just creation. I missed that. It was some of what had prompted me to purchase a tiny house in the middle of nowhere.”

    This inveigling, crow-diffuse story was my own unplanned house guest of the mind, I guess. I call the narrator he because he is me. About a man, an artist, full of life’s anxieties and, arriving at his new home on the outskirts, he takes for granted the eponymous entrance along with him of his unplanned house guest, a woman without self-consciousness about her sporadic nudity. The curtains of his life he uses as ad hoc screening as well as her shelter of clothing . He pampers her whims. As I do this story’s insidiousness. You see, it ultimately steels me against what I once feared. Steals something from me only to give it back better.
    Crows too diffuse to be coal?

  10. The Dandelion Disorder by Charles Wilkinson

    “Not one room in their tiny, cluttered cottage had resisted the advance of Theo’s current project, a series of paintings with the provisional title ‘The Legends of the Plants.’”

    “She hadn’t told Theo about their child, not yet showing beneath her billowing skirts, barely visible even when she was naked.”

    There seems to be something uncannily and unintentionally resonant between this story and the previous one. A small house, more sketching, a naked caterer to the artist’s needs, increasingly begrudged. Crows there, swifts here. The man who is the artist here is more pretentious and a Jack of all trades, master of none, and resents the prospective arrival of a child….
    There seems to be many superstitions attached to dandelions, although the glow under the chin depicting riches I thought was a buttercup? But I see my assumption was wrong. As were my assumptions regarding this artist’s decline transposed to an Aickman-like haunting. Coatless, a monkey shrunk? And again, as with the previous story, I was strangely uplifted by the whole thing. Gave me confidence, somehow, to continue, even at my age. My head like a stripped dandelion.

    “As she expected, he was walking, swiftly and coatless, in the direction of the village inn.”

    “This time it was huge, a kind of furry head on a green stem.”

    My many previous reviews of this author: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/charles-wilkinson-christopher-harman/

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